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#throwbackthursday: 8 Of My Most Memorable Flights/Trips

by on May 23, 2013 · 15 comments

in Alitalia, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, General TPG Business, Social Media, South Africa, South African Airways, Trip Reports

Throwback Thursday, also known as #tbt on Twitter and Instagram, is when people post old pictures of themselves from the past. Well, I thought I’d do a fun walk down memory lane including pictures from some of my memorable past flights/trips. For me, some of my best trips may not be the best in-flight products, but in my eyes if a flight can deliver me to an unforgettable experience, then it achieved its goal and I’ve achieved mine.

1) While maybe it isn’t throwing back too far, this past week I flew Milan to JFK on Alitalia’s A330 with their new Magnifica Class lie-flat seats (full review to come). Cost: I booked the flight using SkyMiles and since it is a partner, it was at the low 50,000-mile level for the one-way (my outbound was mid-tier so it was 150,000 miles total roundtrip).

Alitalia Seat

Alitalia’s new Magnifica business class on the A330.

This trip was memorable because I went to the Beyonce concert in Milan last Saturday and actually got to meet the queen bee herself after the show, thanks to some friends who are friends with her people. She was incredibly friendly and funny, which was impressive after putting on an incredible 2-hour show and having to fly out that evening!

One of my absolute highlights was meeting Beyonce in Milan.

BK + BK in Milan

2) When I quit my job at Morgan Stanley in June of 2011, I left my cubicle on my last day and headed straight for JFK for my first trip to Tokyo. This was a couple months after the terrible earthquake in Japan and tourism there had dropped off a cliff. Delta actually comped my flight since flights were empty and they wanted to let people know what their LAX-Haneda 777-LR flight was like (I do not take comps from the travel industry anymore and haven’t since this trip). Needless to say, this was my first solo trip and first time to Japan and visiting during the crisis aftermath ended up being great because I was able to see so much of the city in a short amount of time. I even got a behind the scenes tour inside the Tsukiji Fish market, which you normally can’t do when tourism is booming.

This was my first trip as a full time blogger. Delta LAX-Tokyo Haneda in aboard the 777LR.

This was my first trip as a full time blogger. Delta LAX-Tokyo Haneda in aboard the 777LR.

My awesome Tsukiji guide Naota-san

My awesome Tsukiji guide Naota-san

3) Flying behind Madonna in British Airways First Class in June 2010. In 2009, I encouraged my friend to get in on the first British Airways 100,000 (now 50,000) credit card offer and he ended up spending $30,000, which qualified him for the Travel Together Ticket. We had a friend’s wedding in London that summer, so he agreed to use the companion ticket for me – as long as I paid the ~$800 in taxes/fees for my ticket. $800 for a roundtrip flight in British Airways First Class to London? Sign me up!

On the outbound leg Madonna ended up boarding as the very last person and she was seated in front of me. Unluckily for me, I had just taken a sleeping pill so that I could sleep immediately upon takeoff on the short hop to London. The flight ended up being delayed for about 90 minutes and Madonna diva’d out a couple times and I had to struggle to stay awake to enjoy the shenanigans! At one point the pilot came out and apologized for the weather (the cause of our delay) and Madonna asked that he “step on it” once airborne. Lesson learned: never take sleeping pills until airborne!.

I did speak to her briefly in the morning and asked her about a concert she was supposed to perform in Rio for that New Year’s – there was a lot of internet speculation, but not confirmation so I decided to ask the source directly. She confirmed she had to cancel, but apparently she may be returning this year or next. I remember she said “Hi Sweetie” when talking to me, which was a highlight for me…being called Sweetie by the Material Girl. Thanks to the British Airways Visa companion pass for making it happen!

I have flown with Madonna in British Airways First Class from JFK-LHR.

The cabin crew doting over Madge during our ground delay

4) In November 2012 I got to fly on the United 787 from San Francisco to Houston to Chicago on the Star Mega Do #4. I was in coach, but in the bulkhead, and I really enjoyed the ride, especially since it was grounded just a couple months later. United just resumed flights this week and I hope the 787′s troubles are behind it, because its a spacious, smooth aircraft. I look forward to testing it out internationally, which is where its jet-lag-reducing benefits are really supposed come into play.

My first time flying the United 787 was on the Star Mega Do.

My first time flying the United 787 was on the Star Mega Do.

Boarding the 787

Boarding the 787

5) My Grandmother, who lives in Asheville, NC is now 90 years old and while she’s still sharp as a whip, her body is frail and traveling takes a toll on her. One of her favorite things to do is visit my aunt in Santa Barbara, California, but since she had a hip replacement, she can’t do the trip alone. So for Thanksgiving 2011 I burned some US Airways miles and redeemed for first class Charlotte-Los Angeles and made the pilgrimage with her. I learned a lot traveling with someone who had mobility issues, but we had an amazing trip. Even though it wasn’t the fanciest use of miles, it was one trip I’ll remember forever.

Taking my grandmother on a special trip to Santa Barbara.

Taking my grandmother on a special trip to Santa Barbara.

6) In July 2010 I burned 120,000 Delta SkyMiles and booked a trip to Paris and Seychelles. Air Seychelles was pleasant and very unique. I remember getting scented oils in the amenity kit and the food was definitely…tropical. It was my first time to the Indian Ocean and probably the most exotic place I had been at the time so the trip was extra special. Sadly, Air Seychelles no longer offers codeshared flights from Paris to SEZ, so it’s much harder to get there using SkyMiles.

Air Seychelles Pearl Class CDG-SEZ.

Air Seychelles Pearl Class CDG-SEZ.

7) Last April I spent a couple weeks in Thailand, Cambodia and Hong Kong and I flew home on Cathay First using British Airways Avios. It was a great experience and one I hope to do again in the near future. Cathay First is one of the top first class products, so if you haven’t experienced it yet, put it on your to-do list!

Cathay Pacific First Class.

Cathay Pacific First Class.

8) This January I went Capetown, Johannesburg and Kruger and flew South African Airways in business class roundtrip for 110,000 US Airways miles. While the seat was a bit short and the service wasn’t great, I have to say my South Africa trip was probably my favorite I’ve ever taken. South Africa has so much to offer – from beaches in Cape Town, amazing wine and food in wine country (just an hour outside of Cape Town), history and culture in Johannesburg and life-changing safari experiences.

JFK-JNB on South African Airways.

JFK-JNB on South African Airways.

My South African Safari was a breathtaking experience especially seeing this leopard.

My South African Safari was a breathtaking experience especially seeing this rare leopard just feet away.

What are your most memorable flights/trips?

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  • Женя .

    cant believe you didnt visit the “sin city” of manama

  • Nat

    Memorable for a bad reason: 14 hours in coach on a UA domestic 777-200 returning from Guam to Chicago (via Hawaii) with no food-service at all! The trip to Palau was my favorite of all time, but flying one of those ancient birds all the way across the Pacific should be illegal!

    Memorable for a good reason: LH first class terminal (and unfortunately the old first class product) from Frankfurt to Boston.

  • thepointsguy

    I still haven’t done the FCT- every time I’ve flown LH F I’ve had tight connections. one of these days!

  • thepointsguy

    Hmm.. Manama, Bahrain? Not quite on my top 20 list…

  • AAPaul

    Oman Air for me between Nairobi and Muscat for a very unique reason –

    I was absolutely famished due to a tight connection from Tanzania, and nearly burst out in tears when the meal came in a sizeable box. turns out? It was Ramadan… and that big old box contained one single dried up date… queue tears…

    Great experience though besides that. Stellar crew.

  • Maury

    My most memorable flight was in April 2010, when I landed and took off on a small propeller plane from the world’s most dangerous airport high above in the Nepalese Himalayas, Lukla on my way to Mt Everest Basecamp.

  • MilesAbound

    Nice post TPG and some real gems in there. And as the post really focuses on, a great and memorable flight is as much about the story around it as the flight itself.

    I did that Seychelles trip myself in 2011 with the whole family and it was a great trip. I do remember reading the in-flight magazine at the time and the tone of the CEO was very pessimistic all about how they can’t compete with the big Middle Eastern carriers. And lo and behold a couple of months later they gave up international flying. It is still however *reasonably* easy to get to SEZ using Kenya Airways.

  • joeypore

    My most memorable trip was taking two of my best friends (who had never flown before) to Tokyo on the DFW – NRT route in J. (haha, yes, I know, they got spoiled on their first flight ever) We even got bumped up to F on the journey back. It was an incredible experience; we had such a great time, and I can’t wait to visit Japan again.

    Trying to think of the most memorable moments though, I think of my journey as a traveler in general. I’ve learned so much, seen so much, met so many incredible people, and it’s only just beginning. Brian, cheers to you, and the rest of the world travelers out there. We don’t have much time on this earth, and to have a blessing so great as to be able to see so much more of it than most people see in their lifetime… it’s something I pray I never take for granted.

  • JulianPscheid

    Nice post, good inspirations (and no credit cards pushed :) Thanks!

  • welovekimberly

    Very fun to read. Now you should do the top ten best deals you ever got!!!

  • Senior Editor

    Is that Beyonce?

  • http://twitter.com/vishal1mehra Vishal Mehra

    nopes, her evil twin

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  • Guest

    How would you rate ANA first class flight?

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